Parachutes outdoors are great!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Reading Outdoors

It is World Book Day on Thursday but we celebrated it 2 days early.  Pupils and staff dressed up as book characters or genres.  We did some storytelling in the woods first then we all chose a place to sit and read our books - up trees, on logs etc.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Balancing in the Woods

As we are doing gymnastics for our P.E at the moment, I took my class to the outdoor play equipment and the woods to try some outdoor balancing.  The children had a safely briefing and the ground below the trees was checked for sharp objects etc.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Mission in Woods - session 2

Had so much fun this morning up in the woods again.  Tarps were set up within 5 mins, like professionals now these kids!  Just as well as a few light rain showers.  Today we improved our maps of the wood and then each group chose a tree to measure the height of - by measuring a pupil who had to stand next to the tree then standing back and working out how many times that pupil would fit into the height of the tree.  Biggest beech trees were 15m high.

Next for the age, we tried measuring the girth of the tree 1m above the ground then divided by 2.5.  It made the oldest trees measured between 80 - 100 years old.  Probably about right as they are a protected strip of trees.

When the kids realised the biggest trees started growing in 1912 they were amazed!  One said they couldn't believe the trees had lived through World Wars 1 and 2.

A real moment of understanding!

Loved it today.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

RME in the Woods

Today I told the story of Jesus in the Wilderness to explain why Lent is 40 days long. 

After telling the part about Jesus being alone in the desert I got everyone to spread out and find a place in the woods on their own but in sight of the next person (for safety).  Everyone had to be quiet for 4 minutes.  My class love to chat but eveyone was silent and I stood in the middle so I could see everyone.  Comments after varied from being peaceful, good hearing the birds sing to "It was boring...nothing to do."  We discussed where the pupils liked to go and think - from corner of the garage to inside a wardrobe!  One pupil said she went and sat in the woods near her house when she needed to think.

I asked one of the boys who loves climbing trees to climb a tree as I read the part about the devil trying to persuade Jesus to jump from the high temple.  He loved sitting up the tree (and he climbed down!)

Finally to the mountain (high point in the playground) where the devil tells Jesus he can have everything he sees from the mountain top.  We looked at the view and talked about temptation.  A Muslim child in the class told us about fasting for Ramadan (also 40 days).

And...I'd brought pancakes and jam for us all to eat before the bell went for break time! 

Monday, 20 February 2012

Outdoor Clocks

After our mission in the woods this morning (see previous post), we had break (outside) then went in for half an hour to do some indoor work before heading out to the playgound for some maths.  As we are starting some work on time, I thought some revision of telling the time using big outdoor clocks (ropes, cones and sticks) would be beneficial. 

In groups of 5 the clocks were made and each pupil made times (hard ones - no o'clocks, half pasts of quarter past/to allowed) and the rest of the group had to say the time in 2 ways - eg. 20 past 1 is the same as 40 mins to 2.  Then they repeated the exercise and had to give the time in 12 and 24 hour time.

Going around the groups I was quickly and easily able to assess who was secure with this and who needed more help.  I have a worksheet for tomorrow to check up on everyone again but hope they will all manage to complete this accurately after today's practical session.  Many commented how much fun they had.  We finished with "What's the Time Mr Wolf" to warm up!

Tomorrow we are doing an activity about Lent outside in the woods...

Oh and my inspiration for my blog name...
I put this up for anyone looking for us...

Mission in the Woods

Our P7 project is "Conflict" so today the mission was to map an area of woods we could use as a hiding place incase the school was attacked!  Each group of 3 was given a small tarp (1m squared!) to put up in case of a rain shower, then they had to map an area of woodland around 5m squared..

Putting up the tarps was a lesson in itself...what a struggle they had!  Only one child had ever made a den in the woods before.  Tying knots and selecting a sensible place proved tricky and it took over 30 mins for some groups to put their tarp up!  Some didn't even use the walls or trees to help make their shelter, just put the tarp up in the middle of their "area" with no shelter.  Great fun though and a valuable learning/team building experience for children who seldom play in the woods.

The mapping has begun but due to the longer time than expected to put up the tarps, we will need another session to complete them. 

 This group tried for ages in the woods then found this spot over the wall!  Very sensible really!

Oh...and we got great views of a very tame wood mouse (much cuter than house mouse) which completely ignored us! 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Indoors Inservice

Oh dear...Inservice days today and tomorrow so no outdoors for me...

We were discussing a programme/course called, "First Steps in Maths," this afternoon and it was very interesting as the folk who have done the course were showing us some misconceptions children have about number work even though they can get the "correct" answers.  By asking pupils how they got a particular answer it was found some pupils don't really understand but can follow a pattern or process.

When they mentioned the importance of doing lots more exampes, acting out number questions in early stages, it got me thinking how much of this can be done outdoors and using objects instead of numbers. I reminded everyone that outdoor learning was perfect for this and not an add on activitiy as many people still seem to think ("I don't see how I can fit in outdoor learning as well as everything else" - often quoted!)

One idea for upper stages, was to ask pupils to represent a 3 digit decimal (with 2 decimal places) using straws, sticks etc - again great outdoors.  Think I'll try this with my Primary 7s and will let you know what they come up with...

Another indoor day ahead but have some outdoor plans for my class during this next week, including outdoor balancing as part of my gymnastics P.E block. 

Monday, 13 February 2012


I have just been to Tesco and they have 1 metre squared blue tarps for £1.27 each.  Small but adequate for a wee shelter.  They also have 20m of thin plastic rope also £1.27 each.  I only went in for a couple of folders!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Woodland art

Always fun being creative in the woods...
 Outdoor classroom

 We are lucky to have many beech trees in our woods

 Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy - spirals and circles

 Faces are popular

 This group recreated the dyke and trees beside them in the woods

A girl with real gloves!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Clay in the woods

Last year we had lots of fun outside making clay creatures to hide in the woods.  At the end we walked through the woods to see how many we could find.  They've all naturally decomposed now so time to make some more...

                                         Inspired by a real wasp nest we found earlier in the autumn

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Parachute Maths

Had great fun doing a maths warm up lesson outside with the parachute today!  I took my class straight from their lining up place at 9am up to the playground.  They loved the parachute!  We did some chanting of our times tables as we worked as a team lifting the parachute up and down in a rythmn first.  Then...each child was given a number - including decimals, 1,2,3 and 4 digit numbers and they had to think about their numbers properties.

Change places if your number is...   odd, even, square, >17 if you subtract 56, the total of the digits <6 etc.

We finished by making a mushroom out of the parachute and sitting under it - very cool - kids love dens!  Each child had to tell us their number and then a number fact about it.

A short (20 mins), fun, useful and easy to organise mental maths warm up.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

What will you find us outside doing next week?

I'm looking at my plans for next week to see which aspects of the learning I could take outdoors. 

I'm definitely taking my Eco group meeting outside on Monday. 

My P7s are looking at direct speech so think I'll use some playground chalk outside for that. 

We are studying conflict and World War 2 as part of that so you might find us outside on a reconnaissance mission in the woods!

For maths we are going on to time next, so ropes and sticks to make big clocks will be my starter lesson.

Talking of sticks...last year a P5 class I was taking for an hour a week, for outdoor learning,  made stick skeletons!  (Thanks to David Birch for the idea).

I'd love to know, what are any other teachers visiting my blog,  planning on doing outside next week?  Comments please.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Candlemas Candles

Well...Candlemas Day was a beautiful sunny day here.  There is a saying that if Candlemas is fair and bright, winter will have another fight!  Snow to come, perhaps?

The children all wrote their reasons for lighting candles today - personal and in terms of nature.  We headed outside this afternoon, sat in a circle in the playground and read our reasons.  I lit a candle for each person who spoke. 

Some pupils had a tear in their eyes as they mentioned people and pets which had passed away.  Some candle lighting reasons were for celebrations.  We started by lighting a candle for the return of the sun.

One pupil said it was a relaxing activity and a few said it was nice to sit quietly outdoors.  Another wrote on our class blog tonight, "I found todays activity beautiful. The candle lighting was touching. I really liked taking photos too!"